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The tyranny of difference: exploring attitudes to the role of the consumer academic in teaching students of mental health nursing




Happell, Brenda
Bocking, Julia
Scholz, Brett
Platania-Phung, Chris

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Informa Healthcare


Background: Consumer participation in mental health service delivery is now a policy expectation. Negative attitudes of health professionals towards collaboration with consumers have been identified as a major barrier to policy implementation. Consumers contributing to the education of nurses and other health positions have been identified as an effective strategy, particularly when consumers occupy academic positions. Attitudes of nurse and consumer academics to the consumer academic role remain under-researched. Aims: To explore the implementation of a consumer academic position from the perspectives of the broader academic team. Methods: Qualitative exploratory research was undertaken to give voice to different perspectives of the implementation of a consumer academic position. In-depth interviews were conducted with nurse academics, the consumer academic and the research team. Results: Thematic data analysis revealed five main themes: seeking a united perspective; who can provide a consumer perspective? How accurate is consumer perspective? One consumer, one opinion, one way, one delivery; bias and poor portrayal of nurses. Conclusions: Marked divergence in views and opinions was evident in terms of support for the role and its perceived value. Further investigation of factors facilitating successful implementation is required and strategies identified to facilitate mutual understandings and goal setting.



Consumer academic, consumer participation, education of health professionals, mental health, mental health nursing, professional defensiveness, stigma



Journal of Mental Health


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